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Dr. Shaifali Sandhya is a US and UK-trained psychologist. She earned a PhD in Human Development and Psychology from The University of Chicago, US as a Mellon Fellow and an MA in Natural Sciences from the University of Cambridge, UK as a Cambridge Commonwealth Fellow and Rajiv Gandhi Fellow. 

She topped the University of Delhi, India in her junior year of undergraduate degree. In her senior year, was one of two University toppers and was awarded the College All-Round Excellence trophy by the Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh. 



Dr. Sandhya is an expert couple and family therapist and an internationally acclaimed book author. Dr. Sandhya's clinical areas of expertise are: biracial and intercultural couples, and families; and, physicians and health providers. As a professor of Clinical Psychology, Dr. Sandhya has taught courses on international mental health, gender, and health disparities in marginalized populations. The author and editor of research articles, books, and chapters, she has conducted interviews with the media and briefed state officials, local legislators, and federal judges to provide independent assessments of the social and mental health impacts on varied topics such as asylum and immigration, environmental resources, and community health. Dr. Sandhya's research expertise is psychological trauma and its mental health effects in refugees and asylum seekers from conflict-affected nations. Her work has featured in international media including the New York Times, Fox TV, CBS, US News and World Report and National Public Radio.

Dr. Sandhya has collaborated with hundreds of couples and families across cultures on rebuilding their relationships. She has treated physicians from different specialties from various hospitals in the US. Her training is informed by a systems way of thinking or how broader influences of society and its constructs (race, gender, ethnicity, patriarchy), childhood, or attachments, and more can influence our psyche and current-day concerns. She also utilizes cognitive-behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, couples therapy, family therapy, and psychoanalysis at different stages of the treatment, based on need.

Past Clinical Experience

In the past, Dr. Sandhya has provided psychotherapy at hospitals and health centers in Chicago, Illinois such as The University of Chicago Hospitals, The Chicago Center for Family Health, The Family Institute at Northwestern University, and Columbia Michael Reese Hospitals. At The University of Chicago, Dr. Sandhya taught classes on International mental health and health disparities to undergraduates.


Dr. Sandhya is on the Steering Committee of the Ryan Licht Sang Bipolar Foundation, a foundation dedicated to fostering awareness, understanding, and research for early-onset Bipolar Disorder. She is the Chair of the American Psychological Association's Division 52, International Committee of Women (2021-2023).

Select Presentations/Publications:

Dr. Sandhya has presented at several academic conferences around the world and at local women's organizations, such as the International Women's Associates of Chicago. Dr. Sandhya has served as a peer-reviewer for academic journals such as Culture, Health, and Sexuality and the  Journal of Marriage and Family. She is a Fellow of the Cambridge Commonwealth Society. Select presentations include:

Sandhya, S. (December, 2023). Displaced: Refugees, trauma, and integration within nations. Oxford University Press. 


Sandhya, S. (August 4, 2023). "Being called a refugee hurts:" Learning about trauma from Ukrainian, Syrian, and Afghan refugees. American Psychological Association. Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Washington DC. 

Sandhya, S. (August 3, 2023). Remediating torture and complex trauma in resettled refugees.  American Psychological Association. Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Washington DC. 

Sandhya, S. (2020). Love will follow: Making love and intimacy work in Indian couples. Second Edition. 

Sandhya, S. (2020). The Glocal family: Exploring its international variations using a family systems framework. Invited book chapter for The Handbook of Systemic Family Therapy. Edited by Karen S. Wampler, Richard B. Miller, Ryan B. Seedall, Lenore M. McWey, Adrian J. Blow, Mudita Rastogi, and Reenee Singh.

Sandhya, S. (2009). Love will follow: Why the Indian marriage is burning. India: Random House. ISBN9788184000429

Sandhya, S. (2009). The social context of marital happiness in urban Indian couples: Interplay of intimacy and conflict. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy 35 (1): 74-96. doi: 10.1111/j.1752-0606.2008.00103.x.

Outreach and Advocacy

Dr. Sandhya's outreach and advocacy efforts include:

1. Mental Health of Syrian. Iraqi and Afghani refugee seekers

For Refugees, Trauma Runs Deep: 'Nobody Knows my Heart Is Crying'

2. Testifying towards Ordinance 16-1983 for the safe disposal of pharmaceutical drugs.  Unused and expired medications that accumulate at home can contribute to accidental poisonings and overdoses, and the majority of teenagers who abuse prescription drugs began doing so from their family medicine cabinet. Providing safe, secure, and readily accessible collection sites for people to dispose of their unused and expired medications - including prescription opioid painkillers - is a matter of public safety, public health, and environmental protection. The Cook County Board of Commissioners is currently considering an ordinance (Proposed Ordinance #16-1983) governing the safe disposal of pharmaceuticals in Cook County. This measure will build upon and expand an existing collection program administered by the Cook County Sheriff's Department, to eliminate "collection deserts" in Cook County and to require pharmaceutical manufacturers to pay a modest fee to support the free and accessible collection of unwanted or expired pharmaceuticals for all County residents. The Sheriff's Department, in conjunction with a public advisory committee, will enforce and oversee the implementation of the ordinance.

Personal Interests

Dr. Sandhya's interests are rowing, animal well-being, and refugee mental health. At Trinity College, she was a cox for Trinity’s First and Third Boat Club, and during the May and Lent bumps on the river Cam raced her crew to victory. In Michaelmas 1994, she was the first debater to open the floor at the Cambridge Union Society, founded in 1815 and the oldest running debating society in the world.

Dr. Shaifali Sandhya

 Dr. Shaifali Sandhya (PhD., The University of Chicago; MA, The University of Cambridge) is a a keynote speaker, author, consultant and psychologist on topics such as trauma, intimate relationships, refugees, and mental health. 

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